Nordeus, a Serbian mobile game studio, is far from being the new kid on the block. Their hit title Top Eleven has been live for nearly a decade and has 200 million registered users, across Facebook, iOS, and Android.
While Nordeus’ games are more IAP focussed, in-game ads still provide a significant source of revenue for their business. We spoke with Bozo Jankovic, Business Development Manager at Nordeus and discussed all things monetization, brands moving in-game, and more.
When Nordeus first started making games, rewarded videos and offerwall were non-existent. However, as the market evolved, they realized that these were the ad units that were an obvious choice for their audiences. Why? Rewarded video and offerwalls contribute to both monetization and user acquisition - making for a useful addition to their in-game economy.
We asked Bozo what exactly goes into creating Nordeus’ monetization strategy. He explained that ad monetization strategy begins with market insights. Bozo is the one following the latest industry trends, benchmarks, and implementation examples. Once he’s done examining the landscape, he consolidates his findings and brings this to the Product Team.
The Product Team then works with the Design team to figure out how and where they should place their ads. Bozo says that listening to users’ feedback is also very important when designing ad monetization strategy since they can often provide extremely useful feedback.
Trends for 2019: The brands are coming
Since launching Top Eleven almost a decade ago, Nordeus has witnessed major changes in the industry. As a product, mediation has changed significantly and Bozo predicts that in 2019 we will see the industry moving towards in-app header bidding/unified auction. “This is a big change - for the better, of course”.
Moreover, Bozo is predicting an influx of brand inventory moving in-game. “We are already seeing more and more networks begin to include brand inventory, and this trend will continue well into the new year. We’ve reached a critical point where brands have become aware of the value that both game and app developers can provide to them. In 2019, we will see more and more money invested into mobile advertising - especially in-game.”
Although only a small niche of Nordeus’ players actually engage with their offerwall, there’s a constant demand for it, making up a good part of their in-game advertising revenue.
Their offerwall traffic driver sits next to the in-app purchase shop. Bozo and his team realized that the best way to increase the use of the offerwall is to increase visibility and educate users about its benefits. From time to time, Nordeus holds offerwall currency sales, and this leads to an increase in both visibility and engagement. They noticed that even after a currency sale, the revenue generated from offerwalls continues to be high as users are far more educated and have already invested time in completing offers.
Offerwall promotional events are proven to increase engagement, retention, and overall revenue. Studies have shown that you can earn up to 3x your revenue, increase organic traffic by 40%, and increase your IAPs by 15%.
Bozo says that when trying to determine the rewarding logic for your game, “finding the sweet spot is crucial”. You need to test, test, and then test again. Finding a balance between valuing a user’s time without harming the in-game economy is key if you want your users to benefit from rewards while ensuring optimal monetization.
Nordeus has also been experimenting with new implementation for their rewarded videos ads. It’s important to not only use classic placements in your shop or to just give away free currency. “We’ve moved beyond this point,” says Bozo. “Now users like it when the rewarded video is tied to gameplay and fits within the narrative of the game. For example, if you have a football game, the reward could potentially come from the club sponsor. It’s important that both the reward and the narrative fit into the gameplay itself.”
Bozo believes that in 2019 developers must design their games with ad monetization in mind. The biggest shift in the last few years? Ad monetization is no longer an addition on top of an existing game - it’s a part of the gameplay and entire game design.